bergenPAC’s nonprofit mission is to make live performing arts and arts education more accessible to everyone in the community. However, one of its original founders and Chairman Emeritus, Edmondo Schwartz, realized that simply bringing headliners to town wasn’t enough if some residents could never visit to the theater.

So he created the vision for the Arts Access Initiative. bergenPAC would partner with organizations served socially and economically disadvantaged communities to give away up to 200 tickets to every performance. Thanks to support by foundations and private donors the program has been able to grow every year since starting in 2015. There are now more than 80 partner organizations. More than 35,000 tickets have been given out since the initiative’s inception, including close to 15,000 given out in 2019 alone.

The organizations involved range from senior clubs to family social agencies to programs helping at-risk teens. The hardships these residents face may be different, but they all enjoy the benefits of being able to take in live entertainment close to home.

As a representative from the Cresskill Senior Center said, “This program is just amazing. This generation of seniors are used to giving to others. But this program allows them to enjoy things that are given to them. They get out to socialize with friends and in some cases go out to dinner. If I have been told once I have been told 50 times, this program has made me less lonely. Even if they only get one ticket they meet others at the events and it’s a NIGHT OUT.”

While the theater is temporarily closed, bergenPAC looks forward to spreading joy across the community through its Arts Access Initiative in the near future. To learn more about how to participate or support the program, please visit